A model aided understanding of spot pattern formation in chemotactic E. coli colonies

  • Akihiro Aotani
  • Masayasu MimuraEmail author
  • Thomas Mollee
Original Paper


Colonies of mutant E. coli strains, when inoculated in the centre of a plate, form highly symmetric, stable spot patterns. These spot patterns are only observed in chemotactic E. coli strains, i.e. strains that bias their motion so that cell populations move up gradients of a chemical in the cells’ local environment. It is an important question whether these patterns are due to genetic control or self-organization. Here we present a macroscopic continuum model of E. coli pattern formation that incorporates cell diffusion, chemotaxis, population growth and conversion to an inactive state. This model satisfactorily reproduces the observed spot patterns, supporting the view that these patterns are indeed a result of self-organization, and allows us to infer plausible minimal mechanisms that generate the observed patterns.


Chemotaxis Bacterial colony patterns Self-organization Mathematical modelling 


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Copyright information

© The JJIAM Publishing Committee and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akihiro Aotani
    • 1
  • Masayasu Mimura
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas Mollee
    • 3
  1. 1.Hiroshima University High SchoolHiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical SciencesMeiji UniversityKawasakiJapan
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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